Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts August 1998
Short Cuts:NOW YOU SEE IT...
Trade show Houdini: Joel Bauer works magic.
It's every convention planner's fantasy: Eager
crowds swarm the trade show floor, generating hundreds of new sales
leads. Before the day is out, profits are soaring, and exhibitors
and attendees have committed to future shows through the year
With a little magic, it might just happen. And magic is just
what a growing number of organizations are banking on. Whether it's
to work the crowd at trade shows or receptions, roll out new
products to a skeptical sales team or introduce a lofty business
mission, corporate Houdinis are in demand.
Each has a slightly different routine. When Bob
Higa (847-991-7911) is on stage, doves materialize from
silk scarves, and foot-long needles pass through translucent
balloons. That's just for starters. For grander illusions, he'll
carve his assistant in half, mysteriously trade places with her in
a double- padlocked box - even have your CEO appear on stage amid
an explosion of fireworks. Higa, based in Palatine, Ill., comes
from the other side; he draws on 20 years in sales and marketing to
help clients achieve business objectives through magic and
illusion. And he's not afraid to share his secrets. "I teach the
audience magic - not just a trick, but a routine they can use to
demonstrate their points," he says.
Joel Bauer (818-895-1599), meanwhile, calls
himself a "perceptionist." He was the guy who drew hundreds to the
Panasonic booth this past June during PC Expo at the Jacob K.
Javits Convention Center in New York City. "I don't do magic
shows," says the North Hills, Calif.-based performer. "My act is
reading people's minds. I touch them and connect with them -
something the booth staff can't do," says Bauer, who wields a mean
deck of cards and challenges the audience to stump him with dates,
numbers, names and words they think up (but don't reveal), while
seamlessly weaving in tidbits about the company's product or
service. "I become an extension of the marketing arm for the
company," says Bauer, who has touted everything from fertilizer to
Also among the ranks of these meeting magic-makers is
Larry Tamarkin (770-740-0005) of Alpharetta, Ga.,
who likens his role to that of a corporate go-between. "My goal is
to be the liaison between the crowd and the trade show booth
people. I use magic to bring them to the booth, and then turn them
over to the salespeople," he says. Tamarkin relies on elegant
slight-of-hand magic - card tricks, disappearing coins, multiplying
balls and seemingly endless rope lengths - to tempt booth-browsers
or to break the ice at cocktail receptions.
There's no magic to finding a magician. With a quick search of
the Web, hundreds of listings will appear before your eyes in
IF YOU HAD A PERSONAL THEME SONG, WHAT WOULD IT
"Definitely 'She Works Hard for the Money.' I guess
because planners never get paid enough for the things they have to
put up with."
Weatherly M. Treese, CMP
Interim Services Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
"I really love the song from The Sound of Music, 'My
Favorite Things.' Whenever things get tough, I hum that tune. We
need to think of the positive things in life, rather than dwelling
on the negative, but most of us don't."
Rose Garland, CMP
Employee Development Consultant
Internal Revenue Service
St. Louis, Mo.
"Maybe that old song that goes 'You gotta have heart; all
you really need is heart...' We have to try to do everything to
please our attendees. That's what planning is all about."
St. Johns, Mich.
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